Project Types and Complex Problem-Solving Competencies: Towards a Conceptual Framework

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Project management and collaboration are considered core competencies in engineering education, both in relation to complex problem-solving and as part of the required professional skill set. The most common way of learning both project management and collaboration skills is by introducing different types of teambased projects in the engineering curriculum and letting students reflect on their skills development. However, the student experiencing and learning during a project process depends on the team size and duration of the project work, as well as the scope and organization of the project itself, ranging from a
narrower disciplinary approach to a more contextual one, incorporating interdisciplinary and interorganizational learning outcomes.

In this paper, we present a conceptual framework for understanding the variations in educational projects and intended learning outcomes for project management and teamwork. The project typology is based on two dimensions: 1) the scientific content and problem scoping, ranging from simple and complicated problems to complex and interdisciplinary problems; and 2) the size and organization of the team(s) implicitly involving project management processes on varying levels. Combining these two dimensions results in four educational project categories: the discipline project and multi-projects, addressing single discipline learning objectives on a scale from individual discipline teams to larger team clusters; and interdisciplinary projects and megaprojects, which cover contextual, complex and interdisciplinary learning
outcomes on a scale from smaller interdisciplinary teams to larger ‘teams of teams’, or clusters in collaborative networks. These four ideal types of project frame students’ learning of various complex problem-solving competencies such as problem identification, analysis and solving, collaboration skills and
project management in different ways, all relevant in engineering education. Here, we focus specifically on intended learning outcomes related to the different types of interdisciplinary projects.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEducate for the future : PBL, Sustainability and Digitalisation 2020
EditorsAida Guerra, Anette Kolmos, Maiken Winther, Juebei Chen
Number of pages10
PublisherAalborg Universitetsforlag
Publication date2020
ISBN (Electronic)978-87-7210-313-6
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Event8th International Research Symposium on PBL -
Duration: 18 Aug 202018 Aug 2020


Conference8th International Research Symposium on PBL
SeriesInternational Research Symposium on PBL

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